Kurdish language teachers acquitted of terrorism charges
Seven educators who were detained for teaching Kurdish to preschoolers were acquitted of the charges of educating students on behalf of an organization, presumably the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), deemed a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.
Seven educators from the southeastern province of Van who had been detained for five months for teaching Kurdish were acquitted of the charges of "educating on behalf of an organization" due to a lack of proof, Mesopotamia Agency reported.
"They deemed our education illegal because of their approach to Kurdish," said Şevket Acar, one of the educators who was arrested for suspected links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), regarded as a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States and the European Union (EU).
The court said in the ruling that they were unable to recover evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendants conveyed PKK ideology to their students, or that they were affiliated with or in the hierarchical structure of any terrorist organization, including the PKK.
Amongst the acquitted educators were Dilber Akın, Mizgin Deniz, Gülsüm Bilge, Ferhan Yeşil, Celal Soğuk and Naim Özden.
'They teach us the ABCs'
The educators who taught kids Kurdish were accused of "teaching young kids the ideologies of the organization with no official permission, under the guise of pre-school education."
The court ruled that the evidence was insufficient to establish any links between the defendants and the PKK. The court ruling noted that students of the defendants were asked whether the instructors taught them anything about the police or soldiers.
"The kids answered 'They teach us the ABCs, numbers but nothing else,'" the court ruling said, adding that the kids gave no responses that prompted further testimony.
'First we were placed under surveillance, then we were detained'
The educators were initially teaching at the Kurdish kindergartens opened by the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) municipality that were then shut down by the Interior Ministry's trustee mayor, Acar said.
The kindergarten students' parents asked the teachers to continue their kids' education and insisted that the teachers give private lessons in the families' homes.
"We ended up volunteering classes a few days a week for a couple hours. First, the police placed us under surveillance. Finally, we were detained and arrested," Acar said.
Acar noted that during the court's investigation, the defendants were still kept in jail.
"They detained children and tried to collect evidence. Despite everything, we ended up staying in jail for months."